Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Is this the first example of a Masters race?

Like many 'older' runners I  enjoy racing in Masters age group races.  But is this the first example of  such a race?

The venue is Stamford Bridge Grounds and it is December 1892.  A  race over 10 miles has been arranged for 'Peds!' (Pedestrians /foot racers) over the age of 50.  Certainly The Adelaide Advertiser of the 24th January 1893 thought it a unique event.

The race, the brainchild of Sir J D Astley, believed an "old timers" race would not only attract a good attendance but would provide an opportunity of a final pay day for:

Men whose names years ago were household words in sporting circles, but who have been gradually going downhill both in age and pocket.

With a prize of £50 for the winner and lesser sums for those who followed.  There were 48 entrants, of which 38 actually started.  Those that did not make the start line included the famous "Gateshead Clipper" Jack White.

The race was a handicap, with those over the minimum age of 50 receiving 50 yards for each additional year of age.

The starters included well known "peds" such as " The American Deer" and Bill Lane "Crowcatcher".

Two runners started off scratch with E Moorhouse the "Waterloo Pet" at the age of 73 gaining a 2,270 yard advantage.

The newspaper report goes on to describe that:

after a few laps had been covered some of the competitors began to find that they were not quite so active as they used to be, and one by one a dozen or so dropped out, but at 5 miles there were still 25 left in and nearly all these finished.

The race was won in 1hr 1 min 39 sec by "Choppy" Warburton of Liverpool with Shipley, who started off scratch second.  Unfortunately the winner was later disqualified, when it was found that he was only 48 years of age.


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